October 5, 2017

Open Letter to a Green Mama

A landfill in Poland

Image via Wikipedia

Dear Green Mama,

I just bought diapers. They are for your new baby. As a childfree woman this is an exceptional and eye-opening day for me. Thank you for taking the time to research the environmental impact of having a child and choosing to use cloth diapers instead of disposables. And thank you for educating me on the new technology of the old standard cloth diapers. Gone are safety pins and saggy rubber pants. Cloth diapers are now made of wool, bamboo, unbleached hemp, and cotton with snug waterproof covers in every color in the Crayola box. You also told me about the burden of disposable diapers on our landfills:

“An average child will go through several thousand diapers in his/her life. Since disposable diapers are discarded after a single use, usage of disposable diapers increases the burden on landfill sites, and increased environmental awareness has led to a growth in campaigns for parents to use reusable alternatives such as cloth or hybrid diapers. An estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year.” (Source Wikipedia)

There has been much debate over landfill for disposable diapers vs. water usage for cloth diapers. Which is better for the environment? Bleached industrial cotton is terrible for the environment and so is using a washing machine and detergent. However, if you use a full load (pardon the pun) and green laundry products they are better both baby and the world.

Fact: The use of cloth diapers goes up in hard economic times. Parents will spend between $2,000 and $3,000 before potty training on each child vs. $300 for cloth, and the cloth diapers can be recycled and reused for additional children. (Or how about skipping that next child to save some money and the environment?)

But are the cloth diapers better for baby? Many experts believe that potty training is easier for kids with cloth diapers because they can actually feel when they are wet. The fabrics are also free of chemicals and are relatively easy to use.

Back to Green Mama. Thank you also for having a “green shower” free of wrapping paper, decorative paper bags, and plastic bows. Instead, presents will come in reusable baskets and “wrapping” will include cloth diapers with reusable bows. Just during the holidays alone wrapping paper makes up four million tons of waste. I love the idea of eliminating wrapping paper and using cloth instead of disposable. This is one idea that we can all make part of our routine. Just a suggestion, you may not want to wrap your gifts for the childfree in cloth diapers.

Dear WNKers, What do you buy your friend’s babies for gifts?

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No Kids Alliance

Today’s guest post is from Kimberly Rielly , director of communications for Lake Placid CVB / Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.

Singletracking Frontier Town, North Hudson, New York

Singletracking Frontier Town, North Hudson, New York

I personally made the choice to live kid-free before I was old enough to know from whence they came. I said it out loud at the ripe old age of 3. I was sure that if I had a child, it would be just like me – and who needs another sarcastic drain on my attention and wallet who has no respect for their elders?

I’ve never wavered from this decision, and when I met the guy who would be my husband, it was a mandate that he agree wholeheartedly; which we did, and do, about almost everything.

We have fielded reproductive questions from the audience ever since our first date.  I know that my parents genuinely wished to have grandchildren, but I suspect that our friends, who found themselves chasing two or three toddlers around, just wanted us to share in their misery.

During the first ten years of our relationship, we diagnosed ourselves as being selfish. Why no kids? We would save money, and be free to live the lifestyle to which we would become accustomed. Take off for the week and go rock climbing? Sure. No babysitter required.  Tear the house apart for reconstruction while living in it? No problem. We weren’t endangering the health of anyone but ourselves.

We chose to live in the Adirondacks, where we grew up, in order to enjoy the healthy quality of life here. But living in the Adirondacks requires an economic balancing act. Though we are DINKs, we also live up to the level of our double income without much to spare. Adding kids to the equation is beyond my math abilities.

And then there’s the worry factor. Having had the pleasure of being owned by a dog for over 15 years, and living with the associated anxiety about his safety, I can only assume that a kid would increase that level of anxiety by a sizable multiplier. More math.

As I understand from reading the news, our contribution is unnecessary for the survival of the species; there are plenty of other people keeping the planet’s population growing.  And good for them – we actually LIKE kids.  We especially like to be the doting, fun, favorite aunt and uncle.

Luckily, we’re not alone. We’re oddly surrounded by (or maybe attracted to?) a number of workaholic friends who have made the same “no kids” decision.

Perhaps as a result of the this no kids alliance, but more likely a result of maturity, I no longer think that we made a selfish decision. Rather, we have the freedom (though not necessarily the money) to make a greater contribution to society. Instead of driving kids to piano lessons and coaching basketball, we are able to donate our time and perceived skill sets to organizations and individuals that enhance our lives and our communities.

And at this point, we’ve successfully dodged family and friends who repeatedly insisted we’d change our minds – 18 years of dodging. Still no kids. Now that I’m 40-something, I think they FINALLY believe us.

Kim Reilly (@krielly) is an Adirondack adventurer, destination communicator, friend of all dogs and most people. Find out more at her Lake Placid tourism blog or her personal blog.

May I please be excused?

The choice to have children is personal. When someone asks ‘WHY NO KIDS?’ I don’t really mind, but not all of the interrogators accept my responses.

In my twenties my excuse was that I didn’t think I could have kids. Fertility issues run in my family. In my early thirties, I answered with a variety of excuses, always apologetically:

“I’m an environmentalist…”

“Addictions and diseases run in my family…”

“Have you seen the size of my husband’s head?”

In my late thirties, my husband was diagnosed with a rare genetic eye disease that would leave our future generation with a 50% chance of macular degeneration and blindness. (That one shut people up pretty quickly.) As I too rapidly approach my forties, I could easily use the excuse that I’m too old. (More on that another time.) The truth is I don’t want kids and I’m happy. I’m happy teaching, playing, visiting and entertaining other people’s kids AND I’m happy to give them back when I’m done getting my kid fix. I’m happy in my marriage and in my family of two. And I’m really happy being alone and childless. Do I need any other reason?

Why no kids? Why kids? What’s your excuse?

Are you a DINK?

When I grew up in the Adirondacks, a “dink” was a pejorative term for a dullard or a goof ball. “Don’t be such a dink!”

But the acronym, DINK, is something else altogether. It stands for double income, no kids. In other words, a DINK is a two-career childless family. Whether or not the couple is married is beside the point. It’s the absence of children that sets DINKs apart from most “normal” families.

Today a two-career family is common. In fact, it may even represent the norm in the United States. But the decision not to have children? Not the norm. It’s this idea of normalcy that seems to transcend the two dink definitions, the slang from my childhood and the acronym from my adulthood.

“Don’t be such a dink!”

As an educated, hard-working, married adult in my late 30’s I hear it all the time. Maybe not those words, maybe less hostile, maybe couched in patronizing tones, but the underlying idea is still there. If you and your spouse opt not to have children, you’re not normal. Not necessarily a dullard. But perhaps a goof ball. Or maybe my wife and I haven’t quite discovered where babies come from yet? Late bloomers? Fertility woes? Misanthropes? Hedonists?

Actually, I love children. As an uncle to two magnificent nieces who spent the Christmas holiday with us; as an uncle to two dynamo nephews with whom I enjoyed dinner last night and nine energetic days in Costa Rica a week ago; and as a teacher, coach and adviser to middle and high school students at Santa Fe Preparatory School (1996-9) and the American School of Paris (1999-2002) children occupy a central, essential and rewarding place in my life. So why have my wife and I chosen not to have children? The answers are multiple (lifestyle, environmental, financial, etc.) and evolving. I’ll endeavor to answer this question in my future blog posts, and in the process, I hope to better understand and verbalize my choice.

What’s your choice? Are you a DINK? (Share your thoughts in the Facebook DINK discussion.)